Tag Archives: Moses
Teaching young children the concept of types, or symbols, of Christ in Scripture is not difficult. Actually, it’s a lot of fun! The tabernacle is a great place to start because there are so many beautiful visuals you can use to illustrate the lesson. It is imperative to have some kind of visual for the children to see as you teach this lesson. There are many types of models available, expensive or cardboard; there are also flannelgraph figures, posters, and charts. Make sure you have a little priest figure to move through the tabernacle and point out the elements. Also, have a Jesus figure with which to replace each element as you discuss it during the last part of the lesson.
I have taught this lesson to children as young as two years old, and they always get it. It’s rather long, but with the visuals and the promise to be allowed to play with the visuals afterwards, they usually maintain their interest to the end. The really young ones won’t get everything, but they will get the gist. So, here goes:
Pretend you are Aaron, the first High Priest, and you are walking through the tabernacle soon after has been built. The outer court is walled in by high curtains of fine linen. When you enter the outer court, these walls hide the barren desert outside and you are in a cool sanctuary. There is only one entrance to the tabernacle, only one way to the presence of God. The first thing you see when you enter the court is the bronze altar. You know you will spend a lot of time here! The people will bring their sacrifices here and as high priest you will be responsible to kill the animals, drain the blood, and place them on the altar to be burned. The altar is bronze, which is the symbol of judgement. You know that a Holy God must judge sin, and as you look at the bronze altar you are thankful that God has given a way for sin to be atoned for so that each one who sins may live and not die. It is so shiny and pretty now that it is newly made, but you know it will not be so for long. When each sacrifice is made, the blood must be splashed against the altar and poured out on the ground around it. It will be an ugly, messy, smelly place soon. You know that you will be constantly reminded of how ugly, sin is, and what a cost there is to make sin right. For atonement to be made, an innocent life must be taken.
Now you move on to look at the next piece of furniture, the bronze laver. It is a bowl made of mirrors, and you know that each time you wash yourself in it, you must also examine yourself in the mirrors to make sure you are as clean on the inside as you are on the outside.
You look at the tabernacle itself–its meaning is a mystery to you. You know it is made of wooden boards covered with gold, a symbol of man covered by God. How could that be? You know that the boards are held together with the silver your people paid as atonement money. How does atonement bring God and man together as one? This is something you may think about for a lifetime!
The tabernacle is really not much to look at from the outside. It is covered by a gray, waterproof skin protecting it from the rain. But you know that beneath the dull gray is a bright red ram’s skin, red as blood. The ram’s skin reminds you of the ram God gave to Father Abraham to sacrifice in the place of his son Isaac. Beneath that layer is a covering of goat’s skin, a symbol of the sin offerings to be made in this place. Underneath it all is a beautiful curtain of red, purple and blue linen. When you go inside the tabernacle, it is this lovely curtain you see, the colors of heaven, of earth, and of the two intermingled.
Inside, the tabernacle is full of light coming from the seven-branched lampstand which is made of solid gold, standing to your left. On your right sits the table holding the twelve loaves of unleavened bread, one for each tribe of Israel. Straight in front of you is the little altar of incense, which is constantly sending up its sweet odor, the symbol of the prayers of men going up to God.
Behind the altar of incense, a thick veil is stretched. You know that it hides a smaller room, the Holy of Holies, behind it. The veil is covered with pictures of Cherubim, the angels who guard God’s holiness. You know that the very presence of God is in that little room, above the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. You know that you will have to go in there once a year to offer blood on the mercy seat for the sins of the people. You cannot help but feel a sense of awesome fear as you think of standing in God’s holy presence, because you are so unholy.
Did you put yourself in Aaron’s place? Did you feel the awe he must have felt? But this tabernacle was made by men. In Hebrews 9:24, the Bible tells us that this earthly tabernacle was a copy, a picture, of the true tabernacle in heaven. Imagine now that you are in heaven, and God is letting you tour the real tabernacle. It is very much the same, but also different. You go up to the white walls around the outer court, but as you look at them you see that they are not made of white linen but of the good, righteous things that Christians have done. How happy you are to see that some of the things you did on earth to serve God are part of the walls of this wonderful structure!
You go in through the only door, and somehow, the door is Jesus! (John 10:9) The High Priest comes to meet you, but he is not Aaron or any other mere man, but Jesus! (Hebrews 4:14) He takes you by the hand and leads you to the great bronze altar. It is still covered with innocent blood. The High Priest shows the sacrifice which He Himself made. He offered it only one time, but it was enough to cover the sins of the whole world for all time! You see a perfect lamb on the altar–but as you look, you see that the Lamb is really Jesus!
You could spend eternity thinking about this wonderful truth, but there is more to see. The High Priest leads you to the bronze laver to wash yourself. You look into the mirrors, but instead of yourself, you see Jesus! He has washed you clean, inside and out, and He Himself lives in you and through you.
You look at the outside of the tabernacle and you know that the entire structure is Jesus. You know what Aaron could not have known: that the wood and gold boards are a picture of Jesus, Who is both God and man, and that because of His becoming a man, atonement was made for our sins. The plain gray covering reminds you of Isaiah 53:2, which says that Jesus had no outward appearance that would attract us to Him. You know the ram’s skin is a picture of Jesus taking our place just as the ram had taken the place of Isaac as a sacrifice. The goat’s skin reminds you that Jesus gave His life to pay for your sins. You go inside and admire the beautiful inner curtain of red, blue and purple. Here is the way you think of Jesus–the beautiful savior, with the blue of heaven and God and the red of earth and man blending perfectly to create the royal purple.
The tabernacle is filled with light. You look for the lampstand, but it isn’t there! The light is coming from Jesus! (Rev. 22:5) You feel weak from excitement and desire food, so you look for the table of unleavened bread. But it isn’t there either! Jesus gives you His own strength, and that is all you need, because He is the bread of life. (John 6:48)
You feel so full of gratitude to God for all He has done that you want to pray. But you just cannot find the words. You go to the altar of incense to send up your prayers in the smoke (Rev. 5:8) But instead of the altar, Jesus stands there, praying for you. You may not know what to pray, but He does! (Eph. 5:2) You fall to your knees and thank Him.
Now you look for the veil which separates you from the Holy of Holies, where God’s presence dwells. But it is torn from top to bottom! There is now nothing that stands between you and the holy God! You look again and see that the veil is Jesus, torn in His death to make the way for us to go to God. (Heb. 10:20) But it is a fearsome thing to go into the presence of the holy God! You hesitate. But Jesus takes you by the hand and leads you into God’s presence. There are the cherubim, not cold golden statues but real, living things. They are there to guard God’s holiness from sin. But you are no longer afraid. You have a right to be here because Jesus Himself, God’s own Son, is bringing you in. There is the Ark of the Covenant, with the mercy seat covering up the Law. And there is God Himself, smiling at you and calling you His own dear child.
There is so much more of Jesus in this marvelous tabernacle. You could spend all eternity exploring it. But you don’t have to wait until you get to heaven to learn about God’s tabernacle. He graciously told us what it is like in His Word.
There’s a plethora of interesting things one can bring out from the story of Moses. I hardly know where to begin, or when to stop! I’ll just offer whatever springs to mind and let the reader grocery shop through.
The first thing that strikes me as I read these passages is that this is the first time God entrusts anyone with His name. Until this time, He is known as Elohim, the Almighty One, not a name but a title or description. He is also known as Adonai, or Lord, also a title. But here He gives Moses His own name, the name He uses to refer to Himself: Yahweh, I AM. What an incredible privilege, for Moses to hear the personal name of God spoken by God’s own mouth. It gives me chills to think of it. The Jews considered this name to be so precious that they wouldn’t pronounce it or write it down, and we continue that tradition. Every time you see LORD spelled out in all caps in the scriptures, it was actually the name “Yahweh” in the original script. I remember when I was about ten or eleven years when I first heard the name “Yahweh”. I felt sad, even cheated, because I’d been a believer since I was five years old and had never before heard the true name of the God I worshiped. Children need to hear God’s real name.
I have taught from a number of different curricula over the years, and most of the leave a lot of Moses’ story out. The lessons might mention that Moses left Egypt but not explain why. They might explain that Moses became a shepherd, but not tell how such a turn of events came about. Most don’t even mention that Moses got married in Midian and had two sons, which would be of interest to children, I think. Why are the writers of children’s lessons afraid to tell them the truth? Moses was raised a spoiled rich brat. Moses was a murderer. Moses was a coward. Moses was used by God to perform a monumental task that changed the world. Doesn’t this give us hope? Shouldn’t this be encouraging to children who fear they aren’t good enough, strong enough, brave enough to serve God?
Most lessons do brings out the fact that Moses was terrified by the imposing task God had given him, but don’t give the reasons for his fear. Other than the natural fear of failure, Moses had a lot to be nervous about. He had not left Egypt under the best of circumstances. He had come upon an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave and had killed the Egyptian. The next day he came upon a couple of Hebrews duking it out with each other and when he tried to break them up, they sarcastically asked if he meant to kill them too! As a result of his actions, he lost all respect of his own people; and when Pharaoh heard of the murder, he tried to kill Moses and Moses had to flee for his life. One of the things God had to tell him was to reassure him: “all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.” Don’t be afraid of letting the children know the truth: Moses was wrong to kill the Egyptian, even though it may have been for an admirable reason. He may have been trying to save the Hebrew slaves’ life, but the fact that the other Hebrews did not seem thankful for his actions, but rather disdainful, suggests otherwise. But God forgave Moses and used the forty years Moses spent in the wilderness as a shepherd to teach him patience and gentleness with both sheep and people.
However, the reason Moses himself gives for his reluctance to go to Pharaoh is that he is “slow of speech and tongue.” In fact, it is an ancient Jewish tradition that Moses had a pronounced stammer. The fact that God could, and in fact insisted upon, using someone with this handicap as His spokesman is very indicative of God’s nature. In Deuteronomy we read that Moses was “the most humble man who ever lived”. How could he not be humble when he was so very aware that every word that fell freely and eloquently from his lips was directly from God, every clear sound he made a miracle. God in His kindness allowed Moses to take his brother Aaron with him to speak for him, but he does not seem to make much use of him! Why do we not emphasize Moses’ handicap to children, who could be so encouraged by this story? Why do we cover this fact up as if we were ashamed of it?
Children’s Bible stories tend to make Bible characters into some kind of super heroes, setting a standard no one could ever obtain. Rather than encouraging children to excel, these types of stories can make a child feel as if he could never measure; he could never be a Moses or a Joshua or a Joseph. God did not give us the stories of these people in order to make us all feel inferior! He tells us all about these guys, warts and all, to let us know that He can use anyone to work His will. We need to make sure we don’t leave out the warts when we teach the Bible to our kids.
God had a wonderful plan for Moses’ life. He planned for Moses to lead His people out of slavery and take them to the Promised Land, back to the land Abraham had been promised. He planned for Moses to write the first five books of the Bible. Moses was so important to God’s plan that Satan wanted to kill him. Why was Pharaoh suddenly afraid that the Hebrews would outnumber the Egyptians just at the time of Moses’ birth? The Hebrews didn’t grow to over a million people overnight–they had been in Egypt for almost 400 years. Why did Pharaoh give up his campaign of killing all the baby boys born to the Hebrews after only a few months? Obviously, once Moses was safely ensconced in the Pharaoh’s own household, Satan gave up on his insidious plan to murder him. Instead, he tried to corrupt Moses and make him ineffective by tempting him to kill. The older children should also be told that Moses’ life is a picture of Jesus, since Satan also tried to kill Jesus when He was born.
I propose that Jochabed, Moses’ mother, was the first to practice Civil Disobedience. Pharaoh had ordered all the baby boys born to the Hebrews to be put into the river. Although she tried to hide Moses for three months, Jochabed ended up doing just what Pharaoh had ordered! She just added a little ingenuity to it. Notice that God does not save Moses until after Jochabed chose to obey the laws of the land. If she had continued to simply try to hide Moses, he would have been discovered eventually and killed. In obeying Pharaoh, she saved her son from Pharaoh’s hand. The irony is just too delicious!
Please note that Moses was allowed to stay in his mother’s home until he was weaned, which would at that time be about three years. Everything he needed to know to give him a firm foundation of faith was taught to him in that time! These preschool years are so important! Encourage the children to learn about God just like Moses did. You’re never too young!
One way to keep the interest of even the youngest child when teaching the Bible is to keep the stories character-driven. It’s important to make certain you know the truth about the character you are teaching, however. You may or may not use all the information you glean about a person from the Bible, but the more you know, the better you understand that person’s motives and personality and can more easily convey this information to the children. I will use Moses as an example and present a character sketch of him.
Moses is a man of many firsts–a man blessed by being used of God in many mighty ways. He is considered Israel’s greatest prophet. Moses was the first to proclaim God’s Word to whole nations rather than just to his own family or individuals. While Abraham is the father of the faith, he did not prophesy. While Joseph led the nation of Egypt and of Israel, he was a secular ruler, not a prophet. Moses is the first to declare God’s Word to both Israel and Egypt as nations.
Moses was the first leader of the new nation of Israel. When the children of Israel entered Egypt, they were not a nation, just a very large family. They were considered part of the nation of Egypt until Moses lead them into freedom.
Moses was the first law-giver to Israel. God choose to entrust His Law to Moses to be declared to the people.
Moses was the first man entrusted with putting God’s Word into writing, inscribing the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament.
Moses was the first human used by God to do miracles. God had previously performed miracles independently of man, but chose to perform His miracles at this time through Moses.
There are many parallels between the life of Moses and that of Messiah:
Satan tried to kill Moses at birth by moving Pharaoh to kill all the baby boys in Goshen.
Satan tried to kill Messiah at birth by moving Herod to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem.
Moses had to leave a life of ease and great privilege in order to save his people.
Messiah had to leave the right hand of the Father in order to save His people.
Moses saved his people from slavery to Egypt.
Messiah saved His people from slavery to sin.
Moses was a shepherd for 40 years in preparation for shepherding his people.
Messiah is the Great Shepherd of His people.
Moses gave the Law to his people so they would know how to live to please God.
Messiah gives us the Holy Spirit so we will know how to live to please God.
Moses set God’s Word down in writing for all generations to come.
Messiah is God’s Word, showing us God’s message for all time to come.
Aside from parallels between Moses’ life and Christ’s, there are many types of Christ which God reveals through Moses’ ministry. The first and most obvious one is God’s Word itself.
All of the sacrifices made in the tabernacle are types of Christ.
Everything in the tabernacle and even the materials the tabernacle is made of are pictures of Christ.
The manna, the bread of heaven sent to feed the Israelites, is a picture of Christ which He Himself mentions in the Gospel of John chapter 6. If Jesus felt it important enough to preach a sermon on, we must certainly take it seriously and teach it to our children.
The rock Moses strikes in the wilderness to bring water is a picture of Christ–water is always a symbol of the Holy Spirit and we received the Spirit from Christ. Moses is told to bring water from a rock twice during his 40 years of wilderness wandering. The first time he is told to strike the rock–a picture of Christ being stricken by God for our sins. The second time he is told only to speak to the rock. Christ was only stricken once; after that, we need only ask to receive from His the living water. Moses disobeyed and struck the rock a second time, and for that act of disobedience he is not permitted to enter the Promised Land. The fact that the punishment for this seemingly small infraction is so severe tells me how seriously God takes His pictures. Moses had no idea in the world that he was creating pictures of a future Messiah and yet was held accountable for messing one of the pictures up. How much more accountable will we be held if we don’t teach about God’s pictures which we have the privilege of knowing about. We must be faithful to teach our children about these pictures of Jesus in the Old Testament.